Ireland offers the best of traditional country living. This Emerald Isle is steeped in history, heritage, legend and lore. The entire country outside of Dublin and Cork can feel like a small town, and newcomers to Ireland's many villages are likely to be welcomed and made to feel at home. Here is what you need to know before retiring in Ireland.
Establish Retiree Residency in Ireland
Ireland introduced a new residency permit option known as Stamp 0 in December 2011. Under the new Stamp 0 requirements for qualifying for residency, you must show 50,000 euro per person in annual income plus a lump sum available for emergencies equal to the price of a house in Ireland. The size or type of house isn't stipulated, so it's not clear how much the lump sum must amount to, but you should figure at least 150,000 euro. Stamp 0 residency doesn't qualify for naturalization and is not a path to Irish citizenship. Qualification criteria for the country's various residency visas are continually under review, so check the government's immigration website for up-to-date information.
Qualify for an Irish Passport
Ireland has long been known as the "gateway to Europe." Historically, it has been relatively easy to get a second passport here, either through residency or ancestry. Then, as an Irish national, you are free to roam the rest of Europe. However, citizenship through residency has recently become somewhat more difficult to obtain. You may be eligible for Irish citizenship if one of your parents or grandparents was born on the Irish isle, either in the Republic of Ireland or in Northern Ireland.
Retiree Taxes in Ireland
The tax treaty between the United States and Ireland stipulates that pension and Social Security income is taxed in the country where you are a tax resident. If you spend 183 days or more in Ireland in one year or 280 days over a period of two years, you are considered a resident for tax purposes. (In the latter case, you'll be considered a taxable resident in the second year.) Ireland taxes most income according to two tax bands: 20% and 40%. Rather than allowing deductions from income prior to calculating tax owed, Ireland offers credits on the calculated tax.
Planning Permission in Ireland
Planning laws in Ireland are strict, even for locals. A native of one county can find it difficult to buy a building lot in a neighboring county, and a foreigner looking to build a house can face challenges getting the proper approvals. The more rural and undeveloped the location, the more difficult planning permission can be to obtain.
Planning permission is also required when renovating a historic property or adding on to an existing house. If you intend to buy a home, inquire about any extensions or improvements that were made to the property and ask to see the relevant planning permissions. If changes were made without permission, you could face fines or be required to revert the property to its original state after you've become the owner.
Health Care in Ireland
Most communities have local clinics and community hospitals, but your closest major hospital can be hours away. While most parts of the country provide basic medical services, critical and emergency care can be lacking outside the main cities. A remote location in Ireland is not an ideal place to retire if you have serious health issues.
Infrastructure in Ireland
Outside large cities, infrastructure can be limited. In much of Ireland, roads are narrow and winding, and rural roads can be in poor condition. If you decide to purchase a car, four-wheel drive is recommended.
Cellphone service is reliable across the island. If high-speed Internet service is important to you, check the available options in the area before renting or buying a home.
Watch Out for Ireland's Harsh Winters
Before committing to retirement in Ireland, spend time in the country in November through March, when the days are short, the sky is gray and the damp is inescapable. Ireland is a top part-time retirement option for those who want to spend the beautiful spring and summer months on the Emerald Isle, but then escape the worst of the winter weather. However, if you want to rent out your home when you're not living in it, you'll likely struggle to find a renter for the winter months.
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